self care for mums with independent play ideas for toddlers
Creative Play,  Self-Care

Enjoy 5 Minutes Peace A Day With Creative Independent Play

“Can I see the cartoons in the paper?” asked Laura

“Can I have the cake?” asked Lester

“Can I get in with you?” asked the little one.

Five Minutes’ Peace – Jill Murphy

Mummy & Me Time Weekly Planner

It is important to plan your self care into your routine for you and your little one and I’ve made it super simple for you to do with this quick and easy printable that you can fill in and pop on your fridge!

Creative Self-care Ideas

Do you ever find yourself about to sit down or to concentrate on something for just a minute and then a little person comes along and you forget what you were even about to do?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, and I want them to feel loved and valued – but sometimes you just need 5 minutes peace….

When I first read the book ‘5 Minutes Peace’ (as a mum) I realised that I was looking at my own life!

What’s funny is, this book has become a little mantra in our house – and as my kids have grown up they are beginning to recognise that mummy’s 5 minutes peace is really important… To the point where they will tell daddy to be quiet because mummy is having her 5 minutes peace!!

Busy mum stay at home self care tips

In all seriousness though grabbing 5 minutes in your day can make the world of difference – whether it’s to drink a hot cup of tea, take an uninterrupted shower or just sit down for 5 minutes knowing that everyone is okay and you can just take a moment to relax.

However, I am a mum, and I know full well that little ones don’t make this very easy, mine are just 16 months apart and those first few years they kept me on my toes!

So I want to help you find creative ways to keep little ones occupied whilst you grab a well earned break and give you some ideas of how you can use that time to relax!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details

What is self-care?

Self-care is anything you do that promotes your own wellbeing, whether that be your mental health, emotional health, or physical health.

Self-care is different for everyone – what fills one person up, may be exactly the opposite of what another person may need to feel rejuvenated

It is NOT a selfish act, or doing something you do not enjoy doing.

Why Is 5 Minutes Peace So Important For Mums?

Self-care may be the last thing you think you have time for with little ones to take care of, but it is so important that as mums (and dads) we take care of ourselves too.

Self-care is not a selfish whim, but a necessity, as it doesn’t just affect us, but our little ones too.

I love how Zoe Powell put’s it in her article on the importance of self-care as a mother:

“If you struggle with the concept of self care or just frequently find that you have been pushed to the bottom of your list, you might be struggling with the idea that self-care is selfish, or that you are less important than those around you. But in so many ways your wellbeing affects those around you, and so taking care of yourself is about benefitting them and not purely about yourself”

Zoe Powell – Self Care as a Mother

I think many of us fall into the trap of feeling like self-care is just a luxury and only to be enjoyed by those who have children who can sit still (I’ve yet to meet one!)

I know that after an early night and a good nights sleep I feel good and my children inevitably benefit from that, but if I decide to stay up ridiculously late and eat a load of rubbish, I tend to feel pretty rubbish in the morning and although I don’t like to admit it – my children often feel the effects of that too.

How we look after ourselves tends to have an impact on others (not always, but a lot of the time!) And so shifting our mindset to the bigger picture of self-care, and focusing on why it’s important can really help us to prioritise it rather than overlook it.

So now let’s take a look at how we might creatively carve some time out of our day – even just 5 minutes, to recharge and prioritise our own health.

Independent Play Ideas For 5 Minutes Peace

Independent play is not just for your benefit, it is thought to be as important as group play for little ones.

Independent play teaches a child to be reliant on themselves, to independently create, to be imaginative and it can also help them focus and become little problem solvers!

And the added bonus is that you can have 5 minutes to yourself whilst they are teaching themselves what it means to be independent – that is surely a win all round!

Top Tips for Independent Play

Here are some tips for encouraging and embracing independent play with your little ones:

  • Limit Options – When it comes to playing in general, having too many options can often overwhelm children – this is even more of an issue when it comes to independent play – your child needs to be able to focus and this will be so much harder if they don’t even know where to begin
  • Toy Rotation – This follows on nicely from our first point. If you don’t do this already, I would highly recommend it – my children are a bit older now but I still hold back some toys and swap toys around every now and then to keep them interested without being overwhelmed – this is especially helpful for my son who has autism as he struggles with decision making and this can be a real barrier to play
  • Build it into your routine – One of the best ways to encourage independent play is to make it a part of your daily routine – get your child used to keeping themselves occupied during times of the day that you need to get things done. For example, when you are preparing tea, set up an activity that your child can do without your input – you can still be in the same room just observing from a distance
  • Toys set aside for independent play – If you want to get your child excited about their independent playtime, then why not have a special toy or activity that they love, and save it just for these times – they will look forward to playing and you will get a little bit of peace and quiet (provided it isn’t a drum kit you’re giving them!!)
  • Praise – Each time your child is able to play independently, give them some praise, encourage them, ask them about what they have been doing – this will boost their confidence and cement the idea that this is also a fun way to play

These next few tips are not so much about encouraging your child, but putting your mind at ease as a parent whilst engaging your child in independent play:

  • Safety – Put your mind at ease by making sure that your child is in a safe environment – for babies, this might be in a travel cot or playpen, for toddlers this might be in the same room as you but at a distance – whatever it takes to put your mind at ease (if you don’t do this, you may find your mind wandering wondering what they are up to)
  • Non-Messy Activities – If you are the kind of person who stresses about monstrous messes, then I would suggest that in order for you to fully benefit from this time, don’t provide messy play options (I believe messy play is really important for little ones but this is about benefiting you as a parent and so it’s what works for you in this case) There’ll be plenty of opportunities for you to do those activities together and enjoy them when you are not trying to relax!
  • Don’t be afraid of boredom – some children will constantly tell you they are bored, and it can be easy to constantly try to entertain them and engage them in activities, but creativity always starts with boredom, and children need the opportunity to discover their inner creativity and imagination
  • Separate siblings – This is another way to put your mind at ease. If you have more than one child, no matter what the age gap, it is good for them to have time alone to play – and it also means no sibling arguments (because let’s be real, they are most likely to start their heated discussion at exactly the same time as you sit down with a cup of tea!)

Now that you have some tips on how to encourage independent play – let’s move on to some activities that you can set up for your child that will keep them occupied

Activity Ideas for Independent Play

    • Construction Toys – Things like building blocks, Duplo, and Wooden train tracks are all great toys for independent play as they encourage children to construct (hence construction play…!) and problem solve – learning how to piece things together and build is a great skill and this is a great opportunity for your child to focus on something by themselves – for older children you could give them a jigsaw, although I usually find that this requires more help and so is only suitable if you know your child is capable of completing it alone and won’t get too frustrated with it!
    • Quiet Books – These are great for babies and toddlers with lots of different things to look at and do – I love this one on Amazon as it’s a giant A4 size and is lovely and vibrant with a range of activities:

  • Sensory Bags or Bottles – If you want to avoid the mess but want to set up some sensory play, then bottles and bags are the way to go – babies and toddlers love watching glitter float through a bottle of coloured water and looking for hidden objects in a bag of rice!
  • Stickers – Some kids just absolutely love stickers, my daughter is one of them and she has always kept herself occupied with them with very little input – a great suggestion is to pre-lift the edge of the sticker for little ones so you can actually enjoy your peace without being asked to peel every other sticker off 🙂
  • Painting with Water – I love this because it is the most simple thing in the world but kids absolutely love it and it’s a great way to make them feel ‘grown-up’ – give them a bucket of water and a big paintbrush and ask them to paint the fence – or go one step further and give them a roller – this is a great activity for developing motor skills!
  • Posting Activities – I mentioned this in my fine motor skills post here – posting playing cards through slits in cereal boxes, posting pom-poms into a box with a small hole, posting pipe cleaners into the neck of a bottle – this is an activity that little ones love and is great for problem-solving skills!
  • Chalk – another great activity for kids outdoors – I have some activity ideas including nature hunts in the garden and roads for car play here to keep little ones occupied and give you a mini-break
  • Mimic Mummy – If you simply want to get your make up done, or cook, or tidy up then give your child a task to do alongside you – a makeup brush, some pots and pans (I used to give my kids the potato masher in the highchair whilst I made tea) or get out their own mini hoover like this one

So there you have some independent play ideas for your little ones – now what are you going to do with your five minutes??

Creative Self-care Ideas For When you Do Get 5 Minutes!

Self-care ideas that you can squeeze into 5 minutes!

I asked my followers over on my Instagram what their go self-care was and it varied a lot – which is what I expected because self-care is different for everyone – it is all about what tops YOU up.

What you find relaxing and rejuvenating might do the complete opposite for someone else. So this list is not a list of self-care musts, it is just a list of ideas that are hopefully achievable in 5 minutes and you might want to try and see if it gives you the boost you need to get through the day 🙂

Be Active

Staying active is good for your overall wellbeing and although you may not always feel like it, you should feel better for it!


  • Try dancing like crazy in your living room for 5 minutes and get your body moving – you can even include the kids in this one and do it as a family
  • Try a weighted hula hoop, it’s great exercise and a fun hobby that can be learnt in just a few minutes a day!
  • How about doing laps in your back garden if you don’t have time to go out for a run?

Be Creative

If you enjoy creating then why not have a go at doing something small that’s just for you – keep the project small, or something that you can work on little at a time so that you can achieve something over time without having to devote whole days to it – you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in just 5 minutes a day!


We’re going to be covering sleep a little more in the next blog post so I’ll only touch on this briefly.

I’m no sleep expert but I know that the better your child sleeps, it generally follows that you sleep better too, and so we’ll be looking at some ideas for pre-bedtime play in the bath in the next post (make sure you subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of this post so you don’t miss that one!)

Have you tried sleeping when your baby sleeps?! Some people love this, some people hate the idea – but if the only thing that is stopping you napping when your baby does is the ironing or the mess in the kitchen – then ask yourself, in the long term, will it matter more if I get some much-needed sleep, or if my kitchen looks presentable?

Stay Connected

For some people being around other people is really important for their wellbeing – and if this is you, be sure to plan in time with others, even if it’s only a 5-minute phone call, or take 5 minutes to send a quick email to a friend – be creative in how you spend time together – if your baby sleeps whenever you get in the car, why don’t you pick up a friend and go for a drive?

Keep learning

If you like to learn then take the time to study, learn a new skill, research something you’re really interested in – again do this in small snippets and keep coming back to it – make sure it is something you look forward to (you don’t want something that will become a burden)

Get dressed up

Sometimes it can be really easy to stay in pyjamas and lounge around for most of the day – these are good for some days – but for the most part, getting dressed up and making an effort can really boost your mood!

Mummy & Me Time Weekly Planner

It is important to plan your self care into your routine for you and your little one and I’ve made it super simple for you to do with this quick and easy printable that you can fill in and pop on your fridge!

So hopefully you know have some ideas to encourage independent play, some ideas of what to do with your new-found freedom, and lastly I want to encourage you, to encourage another mum and give her the boost she needs!

Share The Love and Encourage Another Mum

Sometimes we all just need a little pick me up – a word of encouragement to tell us we’re doing great – a reminder that being a mum is hard sometimes, but that we are doing great!

So why not send a pick me up to a mum you know?

Bear Hug Gifts is a small business that I came across a year ago when I was looking for something to send to a friend who was going through a rough time and I have been using them ever since!

Bear Hugs Gifts is quite literally a hug in a box (this is not an AD by the way I just love them!)

They are so much more than just a business, advocating for accessible employment opportunities and raising awareness for mental health and they have been so generous in sending Bear Hugs out to nominated NHS staff over these last few weeks 💙

I ordered this box a couple of weeks ago as a treat for myself and to share with you all how awesome this little business is – I ordered the ‘Time for a Kip’ Hug in a Box (and I added the lip balm as an extra) and it is so lovely – perfect for relaxing with the lavender oil and beautiful eye mask.

But what I love most about these is that the actual box is shaped like a bear hug!! It’s just so cute!

You are able to add a customised card into your box, and if you are stuck for what to say they even have that covered with a range of lovely quotes that previous customers have used!

5 Minutes Peace Recap

So let’s just recap on all that we’ve covered on mums getting five minute peace!

  • Self-care is not a luxury but an essential for your wellbeing and it has an impact on those around you
  • Independent play is both good for you and your child – try and establish independent play as part of your daily routine to benefit you both
  • Choose short activities, small projects or quick connections to boost your wellbeing throughout the day
  • Share the love and encourage another mum today!

Take care of yourself, mamas! And don’t forget to get your free download to help you plan that much needed time into your day!

Louisa | Mum’s Creative Cupboard